Grab your best beard and denim vest – it’s time to buy a used van. Here’s our guide to buying a used van like Chuck.


Buying a new van and buying a used van are two completely different things. When you buy a new van, it’s to the standards of the people who built it. When you buy used, it’s the standards of everyone who’s owned it. Vans are powerhouses and workhorses, so they go through a lot in their lifetime that most cars don’t. There’s a lot you need to be on the lookout for when you’re in the market for a used van.

If you’ve ever read a Chuck Norris fact, you know he’s the most impressive human on the planet…if he’s even human! So who better to inspire you when buying a used van? We’re gonna show you how buying a used van is a lot like going toe to toe with a martial arts foe, and what you need to know to knock ’em out like Chuck himself.


Go in knowing what you want used van

How to buy a used vanChuck Norris knows the meaning of life…because he wrote it! Because forward thinking is cool. Depending on whether you’re a builder, electrician or a non-commercial van-user, you’re going to have very different demands on your vehicle. The used van market is full to bursting with all sorts models, sizes and specs.

This can be a little confusing and can end up pulling you in all sorts of directions. Instead of getting overwhelmed with the choices, go into the process knowing exactly what you want. Before you look anywhere, make a list of your requirements, including engine and vehicle size.

Whether you search online or face to face with dealers/owners, knowing your new (used) van needs will save a lot of time looking at models that just don’t suit your needs. Not only will this help you watch what you’re spending on the van, it also means you won’t end up paying excess insurance/VAT down the line.


Find out the used van’s history

How to buy a used vanChuck Norris doesn’t just punch his opponents – he punches every opponent they’ve ever had. In the same way, a van’s previous owner or owners is a huge factor in making your purchase.

The difference in quality between a van owned by one driver and ten drivers can be enormous and will normally be reflected in the price. But it’s not just about how many owners there have been. A used van could have one previous owner: a big company that owned a fleet of the things. In that scenario a lot less care could have been taken on upkeep than if two or three private owners had looked after it.

Be sure to find out how many owners a van has had and what kind of business they were in – it could be the detail that makes or breaks the deal!


Know who you’re dealing with

How to buy a used vanChuck Norris doesn’t use Google…Google uses Chuck Norris! That’s because Chuck knows everything, including who he’s dealing with when buying a used van. Your three main retailers are dealerships, van supermarkets and private owners. Whichever route you choose is up to you but it helps to know the pros and cons of each.

Dealers are legally obliged to sell roadworthy vans without defects, unless they point those defects out to you. They’re also obliged to describe the van truthfully and must have a legal title to the van. A reputable dealer will normally be a member of and meet the standards of a trade association (Retail Motor Industry Federation etc.). Downside: dealers will normally be the most expensive, but you’ll also have the added confidence that you’re getting all the information.

Van supermarkets are a lot like regular supermarkets. The range on offer will be huge but pretty standard, and there won’t be much room for negotiating the advertised price. They can be a good option if you’re looking for a lower price than a dealer, but you may not have the additional support or cover once you drive it away.

Private van sellers are a tricky bunch. You’ll often get a very fair price with private sell, but there’s a lot less regulation than you get with dealers or supermarkets. In fact, the seller is only required to describe the van accurately. That’s not to say that you can’t get a good used van for a good deal with a private seller, but you need to be on your guard. Make sure you don’t buy until you’re certain everything is on the level.


Check the paperwork, then check it again

How to buy a used vanOk so paperwork and 70’s martial arts don’t have a whole lot to do with each other. But you can bet ol’ Chuck had trouble with contracts that he didn’t read all the way through, so learn from his mistakes! There’s no such thing as too much paperwork when it comes to buying a used van. The more documentation you have to look at, the better idea you’ll have of the condition and quality of the van.

The most important document in your arsenal is the V5C Registration Certificate. This is like a van’s birth certificate and passport combined, recording previous owners, chassis and engine number, reg, year, make,  model and colour. All V5C documents are watermarked so compare it with your own or another to make sure it hasn’t been falsified in any way. If you’re not sure, you can always head over to the DVLA website for more information.

Make sure the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the van matches the documents, check the service book has a full rubber-stamped and dated service history and be sure you have a MOT certificate for it. Any van over 3 years old MUST come with a MOT certificate.


Work the body

How to buy a used vanWhen Chuck Norris busts a move, it’s broken forever! So he knows what makes a tough van. Once you’re happy that the paperwork is up to scratch, it’s time to get physical! The van, its mechanics and its body should all be checked out before you make a purchase.

Exchange and Mart has a comprehensive guide on checking a van before purchase. Just like with the paperwork, don’t make a purchase until you’re sure everything is as it should be.


Ask the questions

How to buy a used vanChuck Norris doesn’t read books. He stares at them until they give him the information he wants! So you can bet he’s not afraid to get the information he needs from a van seller.

There’s no such thing as too many questions when you’re buying a used van. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, the person selling the van should be able to tell you. Don’t second-guess asking a question because you think it’s irrelevant or stupid. Ask the question!

It can also be a handy way of weeding out any dubious dealers. If they can’t answer the questions or they don’t like how many questions you’re asking, it could mean they’re not being completely honest with you.


Don’t rush

Chuck Norris lives his life in slow motion so everyone else can keep up. He’s not afraid to take his time and neither should you. If you feel like you’re being pressured into a sale or you’re given a deadline that’s too short, don’t be afraid to walk away from a purchase. There’s no shortage of used vans out there so if it doesn’t feel right, play it safe. You’ve got a lot of round-house kicking to do, no sense wearing yourself out with the first few kicks.


Whether your van is used or new, Trade Direct can offer knockout Van insurance. Free Legal Expenses and a Free courtesy vehicle as standard, not to mention £100 cashback if you’re an existing Trade Direct Public Liability customer. Terms and conditions apply. Find out more about Trade Direct Van insurance.

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